Running a tight ship: Meet Clipper Race manager Sarah Hoare

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“I’m used to being in the jungle, working in thick mud, so this role is quite a change for me,” reflects Sarah, three months into her new role as Clipper Race manager.

Despite swapping mud for the sea, Sarah’s background working in operations and logistics for sustainable development organisation Raleigh in Malaysian Borneo certainly stood her in good stead for all the challenges that organising a round the world yacht race can throw up.

Sarah joined the race in Jamaica in May, during Leg 7, shadowing previous race manager Gillian Russell for the Caribbean and New York stopovers before taking over the role fully in Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Her race year role involves organising and helping crew and skippers with anything they need in port, from immigration, visas, pastoral care and medical advice to victualing, expenses, prizegiving and corporate commitments.

She also plays a key part in the day to day running of the Race Office, including communicating with the yachts every six hours for the schedules, and ensuring skipper blogs are received daily.

“People on the race are totally out of their normal routine and that can throw up all sorts of issues and emotions. I like to be under pressure and enjoy the diversity of managing different situations, and I like to see people to go on and fulfil their dreams, so this job is ideal for me,” says Sarah.

“Long hours don’t faze me, though it has been challenging getting to grips with each country and how they do things such as immigration and visas. Learning these logistics and  combining that with dealing with almost 700 international crew members means there is never a dull moment.”

After a brief stint at a bank in the City, Sarah, originally from Essex, knew the corporate world wasn’t for her so keen on the hospitality industry, she persevered until a job in hotels came up that she wanted.

She loved the diversity of jobs available in the industry and spent ten years working at various hotel chains in management and front of house roles.

Sarah then took an opportunity to go to Borneo to do an expedition with Raleigh as a volunteer for three months. This turned into a full time job for four years as country programme manager, including a secondment in Shanghai. She also spent time in Thailand.

Sarah also worked on logistics for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before the opportunity at the Clipper Race came up.

“I like seeing growth in young people, and also am keen on sustainable projects, so the race manager role was very appealing for me, along with the travel element.

“Working with great people and getting to know lots of crew has been brilliant. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them and a bit of pastoral support. It can be about finding the best outcome for everyone so I must be friendly, approachable, and professional but able to empathise with them.

“Getting crew on a boat at the last minute can be challenging. On one stopover, I had to help get a crew member to a hospital the morning the race left. He managed to get back and get on the boat after being signed off as fit to sail by the doctor with just seconds to go.

“There have also been problems with visas, which may potentially end someone’s race journey so you must be quick thinking and calm under pressure to try to help them find a resolution.”

Now the 13-14 race has finished, Sarah will be assisting with crew allocation, skipper recruitment, helping with training for the various crew roles including victualing and working on all the medical kits for storage.

Sarah is back in the UK for the first time in five years and is looking forward to spending time with friends and family again.

She loves warm weather and in her spare time loves to travel as much as she can and explore new places.

Sarah added: “It was incredibly rewarding in London, seeing the crew so emotional to have completed their 11-month journey around the world, something so few people have achieved.

“Knowing I, even if only for a short time, along with the rest of the Clipper Race team, have contributed to this was very satisfying. Now I am focused on getting to know the 15-16 crew and making sure they will have equally as good a time.”

Sarah’s favourite things 

City: New York – food, iconic buildings and sites – feels like you’re on a movie set

Country: New Zealand – I travelled in a camper last year. Stunning country with loads to see and do

Movie: Big – always loved it. Tom Hanks is one of my favourite actors. All his movies are brilliant

Book: The Hunger Games – I read it recently. I never read books twice

Band: Bon Jovi – embarrassingly I have seen them live 14 times

Joke: What do you call a French man in sandals? Philippe Flop

Sport: Wakeboarding – l Iearnt while living in Borneo, I hope to do more and also try kitesurfing